Archive for March, 2011

women in the Middle East

March 27, 2011

Women in the Middle East

News reports abound

of freedom fighters,

Currently known as rebels,

they are those on the ground,

attempting to overthrow a dictator,

some sort of madman

who doesn’t care how many houses are pummeled

with his rockets,

how many bodies lie lifeless in his city’s streets,

He piles the bodies for all to see.

A widow mourns her husband,

Tells those who are listening

 to continue the fight,

She is 7 months pregnant,

Her dead husband killed by a sniper’s bullet,

In his 27th year.

The news is a sea of men’s faces,

the horror unfolds before our eyes,

Men in the streets wounded,

bleeding, chanting,

and I wonder, “Where are the women?”

They are somewhere hiding,

Behind the walls,

clutching their frightened children,

shielding their ears, wiping their tears,

because this is what women do.

This is what we have ALWAYS done,

the nurturing of the race,

And whether or not

It is in our biology,

or imbedded in our DNA,

It is simply the role we have always played,

A pregnant belly, our body changing,

Over the course of a year,

It  teaches us certain things,

Preservation of life is encoded, mapped onto,

And merged with, our sense of “self”,

Hundreds of Egyptian women

Poured into the protest on city streets,

Their men derided them,

Beat them down,

Told them to go home – where they belonged,

A Western reporter,

Separated from her colleagues

Is beaten and raped by the “freedom fighters,”

Another woman runs into a Libyan hotel,

Screaming she was held for the last 2 days,

Beaten and raped by government supporters,

We watch her on CNN news,

And as we are watching,

They return, and take her away

In a government car.

Later Libyan reports say she was insane,

And a former prostitute,

And I think, “I will never forget her face.”

World leaders discuss

How many torrents of rockets

Will bring peace in the Middle East,

And I think always,

The stories of women

Are hidden beneath the stories of men,

I can’t even imagine the stories of children

With their mothers, hiding, protecting them,

And I want these to be the headline stories,

The ones to come before the men’s,

But always,

Men are arguing, validating war,

Always, Women suffering,

Children even more.

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Bahai jokes during the fast

March 19, 2011

Next-to-last day of the Baha’i fast. I was just thinking how we like to sometimes joke about it. You can’t do that w/people not fasting. For one thing, they think we’re dying. We’re not. It’s actually healthy to fast. If you do not have some pre-existing medical condition (in which case u are obliged not to fast), it is perfectly healthy. Just darn uncomfortable. We get tired. You can’t go your usual rate of 100 mph. You really must slow down. We take naps when possible. But we get through it.

sometimes we send each other e-mails, “Boy I sure would like a frosted donut right about now!” — “Hey, I was just thinking how good such&so tastes for lunch!”

We talk about how we feel, what our bodies are doing. “I am so tired, I feel like I’m getting sick. My hands are cold.” We feel sorry for ourselves. We’re really not the most FUN people to be around during our fast.

Many of us never cheat. We do not eat or drink a drop from sun-up to sundown. Others of us cheat. Sometimes we feel like we just can’t make it. Sometimes we are super-stressed. The rest of the world doesn’t give a hoot if this is the month of Baha’i Faith fast, so life at our jobs continues at its same pace. This makes it difficult, if not impossible sometimes, not to cheat. You can’t let your students suffer, or your clients, and you can’t mess up at work because you’re fasting. My daughter drives a fork lift. You can’t be foggy-minded while driving a forklift. So she continues w/ caffeine. If I teach a night class, I eat BEFORE sundown. Things like that. Sometimes I have one cup of coffee, mid-morning, before teaching. My class will be better. We don’t get struck by lightning or think we will “go to hell” when this happens.

We also joke about not being able to think straight. Fasting does take its effect. We know this and we accomodate to it. You are not at your absolute best! It is supposed to be difficult, an exercise in sacrifice, an exercise in self discipline. It is never easy.

Some people get a cold (sneeze or cough) and say, “Oh wow, I’m sick, I’d better not fast today!” Then they take a couple days off.

If you travel at least 9 hours, you are not obligated to fast from the time you leave on the trip, to the time you return home. There is a wisdom to the Baha’i fast, we do not put ourselves in danger while driving or traveling! Baha’u’llah was very wise. So, many times Bahai’s take a day trip. When we lived in Indiana we’d take the 2-hour drive to Chicago, mess around in the city for the day, go see the Baha’i temple (which is the only one in North America), and then return home, making sure we take at least 9 hours, in which case, we would go out to lunch, or have snacks and coffee on the road! We are a funny lot.

This time of year makes me feel close to all my Baha’i companions all the way around the globe. In every continent, same time of year, all the Baha’is, if they are between ages 15-70, not pregnant, sick or have some other physical condition that would mean they should never fast, ARE ALL FASTING. For MOST of us, this time of year puts us all on MORE equal footing, for sunrise to sundown times, than if it were in the summer or winter months. For most of the world, the day runs about 12 hours, more or less a few minutes. We know the days are getting longer this time of year, because every single day of the fast, it extends 1-2 minutes. the Muslim fast, for example, changes what time of year it occurs, every year. For us, it’s always March 2nd — 20th.

and we all celebrate the Baha’i new year on March 21st, the first day of Spring, and the Spring equinox.

I’ve been cleaning my house all day today, in preparation for my daughter & her family coming tonight for a couple days. It is a special time of year, when I enjoy the company of others who are also fasting, also Bahai’s.

going after Ghadafi

March 17, 2011

I must say, applause applause to the UN for countries coming together to end the reign of Ghadafi, before he goes “house to house” to “hunt down” his own people as he promised. I hope for the release of these people from the threat of annihilation, before it happens.

and I must say, it seems to me that our President did not go in there like a cowboy, and he garnered the support of the countries of the world before helping to end the reign of this madman. Either that or some of the countries came together with or without the United States, but in any case it is not just one nation now, but a force of some nations coming together to end one oppressive ruler.

16th day of the fast

March 17, 2011

3 days left of the Baha’i fast, which will complete 19 days or 1 Baha’i month. 19 months of 19 days each, with 4-5 days leftover which are the days we give gifts and do service in our communities, and visit friends (that is already past, the end of Feb.). Mar. 21st will be our “New Year” also the 1st day of Spring.

The Baha’i Faith is a worldwide, global religion that believes in the oneness of mankind, and the unity of all the beliefs in the world into one common faith. There is one God, one Creator. It is a lovely faith that respects the spiritual basis and validity of all the world’s major religions.

I am tired tonight and going to bed soon. There are 3 more days to be hungry during the day, to sacrifice something for my Lord. It is not that much to give, really. It unites all the Bahai’s around the world also. It is a special time of year. We are always glad to see it end, but also a little sad.

Of the days of the fast, Baha’u’llah says, “Thou hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue, inscrutable to all except Thee, Whose knowledge embraceth all created things.

Thou hast, also, assigned unto every soul a portion of this virtue in accordance with the Tablet of Thy decree and the Scriptures of Thine irrevocable judgment.

Every leaf of these Books and Scriptures Thou hast, moreover, allotted to each one of the peoples and kindreds of the earth.

 (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 143)

Librarians

March 16, 2011

This week there was a visiting librarian consultant on campus. It brought back a flood of memories to me, with my 16 yrs. in the PU Humanities library system. It had been a while since I’d heard “library-speak”.

First of all, librarians are fierce defenders of human rights. Sound strange? They are, historically in the forefront of the freedom to information, freedom to research whatever you want to. They refused to cooperate with the Patriot Act when the govt. wanted to know what all we were reading. They are linked to groups like the ACLU. They fiercely defend freedom to information and non-governmental interference.

I wrote one paper in grad school about power relationships within libraries. Where I worked, there was the clerical staff, who had 1st and most contact w/ patrons and little power; and then there were the “librarians” who roamed the shelves, wandered in and out to work when they felt like it; had their own offices and were in charge of meeting with faculty.

Clerical staff had 2 20-min. breaks and a 1-hour lunch. Librarians wandered. To assert their own independence and power in their own way, clerical staff started skipping their 20 min. breaks and leaving an hour early. And no one stopped them, because the librarians knew what they were doing was a lot more lenient.

The two groups never took breaks together or lunch together. It was an unspoken rule. I am not good at unspoken rules and my problem came when I, as a clerical staff member, became so good at research that professors were coming into the library and asking for me instead of professional library staff. I was in fact told to QUIT meeting with professors, as it was “embarrassing the professional staff”. Yet, I knew those same professional library staff were not interested in some of the research projects of some faculty and belittled them behind their backs. These would be the African American faculty, and their projects were not considered “true science” (direct quote from a librarian). Somewhere along there I decided to become not a librarian, but a professor, and do my OWN research.

More and more I realize my background was a research university and how much I am geared toward that path. Research is what I do. It comes naturally to me. I always want to get to the bottom of what has been published out there on a subject I am interested in. Papers I wrote as an undergrad had 20-25 sources. I wanted to know all there was to know on a certain subject. But I was more mature in age and experience than most undergrads. My dad was a professor too, and although he died when I was only 16, the fire was already lit. His gradf students came to our house for dinner and I saw the way he worked, papers spread out all over the dining room table at night. He worked at home surrounded by the noise of his 4 kids, not away at his office.

So the visiting librarian was very interesting and forward-thinking, and my recollections are from my own background. What I am recalling are the amazing separations by class and occupation levels, where no one may pass, under threat of losing one’s job. Everyone follows the rules, just because that’s the way things are. There was nowhere else for me to advance to in PU Libraries. I had to either go get my MLS or my PhD. I chose my PhD. I wanted to actually DO my own research — not be in charge of finding information for someone else’s interests.

In any case, the “library-speak” was also about what a library IS, in the future. What is a library? It is not a hoarder of books. It is certainly not a gatherer of journals in paper form. Journals are not even bound anymore. (That was my former job: binding periodicals clerk). So what is a library?

Libraries of the future are places where people may gather to share information, to study together, to collaborate. They will still hold books. But books will be borrowed and shared amongst libraries. Librarians will put together search engines by subject, according to the interests of the people doing research. Their jobs are to continually review what is “out there” and condense it down by subject areas. Databases and also just things they put together, places where they gather various sources. Not all journals are yet online, especially the older historical issues, so that is ongoing.

Libraries may eventually become virtual, but retain books like a museum. But for now, the vision is for them to be artistically designed, welcoming environments where people come to enjoy and share knowledge, and to collaborate on research and learning.

And now I have my own published book, and my own journal article. I have a chapter in a 3-vol. series coming out, and I have an entry in a criminal justice encyclopedia.  🙂

Agnew Lochnaw coat of arms

March 13, 2011

Ran across this on findagrave.com  Just another JAMES AGNEW but originally from LOCHNAW, which is probably where we originated. Buried in PA, which is also probably where we started in the US, & then my clan to southern Ohio. No idea if it is any relation yet, but it is the coat of arms.

Mar.13, one week to go

March 13, 2011

One more week of the Baha’i fast where we do not eat or drink from sunrise to sundown. That being said, Daylight Savings time doesn’t do a THING for us!! We now wait until 7:30pm to eat dinner.  🙂  Any kind of food sounds good by that time. You don’t care what it is.

I think of the people of northern Japan, who have left their homes which were either destroyed, pulverized by the tsunami or are threatened now by a nuclear reactor meltdown, and they have no power. Japan, one of the most advanced, high-tech societies of the world, with a people-per-sq-mile of something like 900, now has hundreds and thousands of people wandering south, looking for shelter, food and water. There have to be ten thousand personal stories, stories of human giving and generosity, as well as human suffering, but all we see on the news is the same old boring reports. I would like some human stories, personal stories. They also edit the tsunami videos. If you watch, just about when the wave is going to reach a road which still has people on it, it shuts off. They are edited. Makes you wonder what it’s really like out there.

Ghadafi and Libya have disappeared from CNN. You can bet he’s getting ready to strike, or he is already. The world cannot move forward toward unity until ALL the world is free of oppression and dictators who don’t care who they kill as long as they retain power. Only after they achieve democracy will the stories of the WOMEN of the world come out! They will never be free until the men are first freed of the dictators. Then the women will demand their own freedom.

Today I added the last of the photos of gravesites I had taken over spring break. Perhaps someone, sometime, will decide to look for their loved one’s gravesite photo, type in their name and birth or death dates, and up will pop my photo. That is my hope. It all takes time, time to drive to the cemetaries, photograph the stones taking care to get all the information, and then LOTS of time to add them into the website and post the photo.

Yesterday morning I spent about 2 hours, by mistake adding photos to the wrong cemetary. I just thank God I discovered what I did, so I could then delete them all. I would have transfered them easily to the correct cemetary, but when I checked, someone else had already added most of them. There were only a couple that had not already been added. That was a lesson learned.

Yesterday I restarted my 2-mi. daily walk, so it’s time to hit the pavement again right now. Bright and sunny and 74 degrees, how can I complain?

earthquake and tsunami, 11th day of the fast

March 12, 2011

I was going to write every day but it’s too hard.

In the news today is the largest earthquake since 1900, I think they said, off the coast of Japan, which sent a new tsunami across the Pacific. The latest is that they have a number of nuclear power plants with the danger of melting down. IS THIS FOR REAL, have we really created such a world??

What amazes me is the catastrophe all happened with no notice, just a few hours’ time & they were evacuating places. Most people could not escape. Like the people ages ago caught in the volcanic eruption — their silhouettes preserved for centuries to come — the tsunami wave rolled inland for 6 miles, carrying boats, collapsed  buildings, cars, untold hundreds of bodies, human beings, lives that caved in when their buildings did . . .

and the nuclear power that was so indispensable STOPPED as well, when they had to turn off the power and evacuate them. But some of them won’t cool down. I think of babies– deformed– from the megabomb we let fall on HIroshima — Nagasaki — Chernoble and lessons supposedly learned. But we never learn. We recreate the past. We want our comforts and pleasant lives.

We sit in awe of nature’s power to wreak havoc on us at any time.

March 9th, 8th day of the fast

March 9, 2011

In the last hour of the 8th day of the fast. 11 more days to go.

My hands go cold at this hour. They are like ice. Of course, the pouring down rain of the afternoon doesn’t help either. Couldn’t quite get myself into “work mode” yet today, so I took a few hours to find 2 gravesites for 2 different people, one in C. and one near D. Island. This is my new hobby. I am a contributor to other people’s family history searches, hoping that someday, this valiant effort on my part (catch the humor here) will be rewarded in solving the mystery of my great-grandfather James Agnew. I am resigned to the fact that this may never happen, and if it does it will be after much tedious effort on my part with little reward. I am at the end of the easy search part. The rest, if there is anything out there to find, will not come easy. The few remaining survivors on my Agnew side do not answer my calls or letters. It is a family doomed with some secret curse of unrelenting antagonism that never goes away. So, I find a relative’s address and even their phone number, but they don’t answer my letters, and do not take my calls. If they really are out there, they are either too old to remember who I am, too young to know who I am, or they just don’t care.

Spent a couple days in Charleston which was a fun little break w/ my husband. We found time for a walk on the ocean, 1 museum, 1 poetry venue, the only tea plantation in North America, and a 300-400-yr-old live oak tree that sprawled all over a small park. It was a good time and a good getaway.

I wanted to write a poem for my husband’s poetry night tonight, just for fun, not polished, just spew something out. Here it is:

Life at 57

I would like to write a brief synopsis

of life at 57.

Last night, I heard a woman read,

Her poems full of small children

 and the wonders of playing with a 2-yr-old,

watching her children take their first steps,

wondering who they will be when they grow up,

She called home

As soon as she finished reading,

To see how they were doing,

A few brief hours without her,

Were they still alive??

— Oh, okay, GOOD, fine,

She left soon after,

And I wanted to tell her,

She could have sold more books

If she had stayed,

MY children are all grown up,

Two happily married,

One never married,

One now twice divorced,

Four children

in four different states,

My husband and I in yet another,

Come together for vacation once a year,

Post pictures and statuses

On Facebook,

Four grandchildren –3 boys, and a girl,

Decorate our office walls,

And I   – I have made it

To each and every birth so far,

One time traveling by greyhound bus,

Which is all we could afford,

My intuition telling me not to wait,

I left a day early,

Received the call at 2am,

Her water broke,

She was in labor,

I arrived, my daughter kneeling by the bed,

Her moaning telling me there was not much time,

We barely made it to the Birthing Center,

Four years later, I held that one in my arms

When baby sister arrived –

I have outlived the age of my father’s death

By 7 years, so far,

I have buried my mother, my older brother,

A woman in her 50s has a certain perspective

on death – and life,

She perhaps picked up some wisdom along the way,

You don’t care to PLEASE so much anymore,

You don’t always feel the need to smile,

There is not as much DEMAND to look your best,

Men don’t honk, or proposition you,

when you go walking,

Life slows down,

You notice a flower blooming,

A walk by the pond will make your day,

You develop an appreciation

For an evening with friends,

THIS evening –right now– is as important as any other,

And NOTHING, anymore, surprises you.

You know that no matter WHAT you do,

Some people just plain WON’T LIKE YOU,

There is nothing you can do about it,

And it doesn’t even matter.

Life is not about that.

It is more about moments – and your response to them,

And it is very, very sweet.                  …. To be continued….  3/09/2011       Carol F. Black

that all nations should become one in faith

March 6, 2011

Tonight I think of all those living under severe oppression, and the hypocracy of us going into Iraq to “free the people” and undo the Saddam Hussein regime, but not lifting a finger for the people in Libya and elsewhere who obviously live under a maniac and severe oppression and fear.

And I think of the dear friends, the dear souls who went into prison in Iran just for believing in the oneness of mankind. The Bahai’s of Iran who live under severe oppression for believing in their faith, who are upright citizens of their countries, have a faith that tells them to obey their governments, who have the audacity to promote the equality of women and men and education for all, and who are tainted with a mockery of justice that calls them criminals. Please God, if Ye wish, free them from this horrible situation. Let their faith be proclaimed throughout the world so all can see the world-embracing upliftment it brings to the entire world.

“We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer-up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment…. That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled — what harm is there in this? . . . Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come….”  –Baha’u’llah as quoted to Edward Granville Browne, historian.